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Korky & Thornton lead SJ in Game 4
Sharks control series 3-1
4/13/04 - by Mike Lee

It wasn't the controlled game the Sharks have become accustomed to this season, but their 4-3 victory over the St Louis Blues in Game 4 of their Western Conference match up got the job done. As a result, the Blues are on the verge of elimination in the 1st round as the Sharks continue to find ways to win. Steady goaltending and scoring from a different part of the lineup continues to carry San Jose, this time courtesy of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, and forwards Alexander Korolyuk and Scott Thornton.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 2 1 4
STL 1 0 2 3
1st period - S.J, S. THORNTON (1) (M. RICCI, J. CHEECHOO), 06:29 STL, M. DANTON (1) (M. SILLINGER, B. SAVAGE), 11:25
2nd period - S.J, S. THORNTON (2) (J. CHEECHOO), 03:35 S.J, A. KOROLYUK (1) (K. MCLAREN, C. BROWN), 10:04
3rd period - STL, P. DEMITRA (1) (C. PRONGER, K. TKACHUK), 00:34 S.J, A. KOROLYUK (2) (S. HANNAN, K. MCLAREN), 11:19 STL, D. WEIGHT (2) (C. BACKMAN, P. CAJANEK), 15:07
1st period - S.J, K. MCLAREN, 13:21 - Holding stick S.J, S. HANNAN, 15:27 - Cross check STL, D. DRAKE, 18:00 - Roughing
2nd period - STL, C. PRONGER, 08:02 - Slashing STL, C. BACKMAN, 13:56 - Tripping S.J, S. THORNTON, 17:48 - Roughing
3rd period - STL, P. CAJANEK, 01:44 - Interference STL, C. PRONGER, 09:22 - Interference S.J, K. MCLAREN, 15:03 - Interference STL, P. DEMITRA, 16:19 - Hi stick
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 25 22
STL - Osgood 24 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 8 12 4 24
STL 8 5 12 25
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 6
STL 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Alexander Korolyuk
Scott Thornton
Chris Osgood
Nabokov stopped 22 shots en route his third win in the postseason, including a flurry in the final moments of the game as St Louis tried in desperation to tie the game at 4-4.

Thornton gave the Sharks the lead twice in the game and Korolyuk provided padding every time the Blues tried to make a run.

Thornton opened the scoring 6:29 into the game and silenced a wild Savvis Center crowd with his first of the playoffs with a wrist shot from the right dot that slipped past Blues goaltender Chris Osgood. St Louis fans were looking for the Blues to carry their play over from Game 3, but Thornton took a pass from Mike Ricci and snapped home instant silence.

Mike Danton tied things up five minutes later with one of the prettiest goals of the series. Mike Sillinger, fresh off his Game 3 hat trick, carried the puck into the Sharks zone on a rush then hit the brakes along the left wing boards. He waited for a trailer, and hit Danton, who was streaking through the zone. The Blues centerman then deeked Vincent Damphousse in the slot before slipping the puck past Nabokov just inside the right post.

San Jose would retake the lead early in the 2nd period when Thornton swatted a loose puck past Osgood after Jonathan Cheechoo fired a shot at the Blues goaltender. Osgood lost track of the rebound, which had trickled to his right, but Thornton alertly poked it home with a swat from the top of the crease.

Korolyuk would help San Jose extend the lead to 3-1 right after a Chris Pronger penalty expired midway through the period. Kyle McLaren fired a rocket from the point that Korolyuk redirected from just outside the right post. Pronger, who continues to let the Sharks get under his skin, was sent off for slashing, allowing the Sharks to score with essentially a man advantage.

With a two goal lead entering the final period, San Jose looked as if they could focus on a defensive posture for the remainder of the game, but sloppy defensive play allowed Jamal Mayers to cut into the Sharks lead just 34 seconds in.

Pronger would cost his team again, but this time it would allow the game-winning goal. After Pronger was sent off for an interference penalty, Korolyuk converted on the ensuing power play. Defenseman Scott Hannan tried jamming a shot past Osgood from the bottom of the left circle, but the Blues netminder made the save. Osgood failed to control the rebound and Korolyuk roofed the puck for the 4-2 lead.

Doug Weight would score a power play goal with 4:53 to play in regulation, but it would prove to be too little.

Play of the Game
Danton's goal could have really bee problematic for the Sharks, because they had silenced the crowd with Thornton's opening goal, and it got the Blues back into the game. Sillinger made a nice play to wait for his support and made a perfect pass across the ice to Danton, who iced the play with a nifty move and a shot that found the back of the net.

The Turning Point
Korolyuk's first goal gave the Sharks some breathing room, even though St Louis would battle back later in the game. After their whitewashing on Monday night, the Blues could have turned the tables on the series if they were able to win Game 4, but Korolyuk's goal proved to be more adversity than the Blues were ready to take on after such a lopsided win less than 24 hours earlier.

Save of the Game
Osgood is one of the few bright spots for the Blues in this series, but he's sure to take a lot of heat should the Blues get bounced. His critics will be hard pressed to argue a save he made in the 3rd period on a Jonathan Cheechoo breakaway. Cheechoo beat Osgood with a move to the left post, but the St Louis netminder made an insane save by twisting to his own left as he was falling to the ice in order to get his glove rotated around to cover the left post. Cheechoo had a wide open net to shoot out, but Osgood was able to snag the puck with the acrobatic move.

Box Scores Do No Justice
The Blues came inches from tying the game at 3-3 when Scott Mellanby missed on his own wide open net. After Doug Weight tried stuffing the puck home from the right side of the crease, the puck trickled over to the far post, ripe for an easy tap in. Mellanby poked at the puck from behind the Sharks net, but it appeared that the post interfered with Mellanby's shot enough to cut the trajectory short. The puck ended up bouncing off Nabokov's back before a pile of bodies piled on top of it. Video replays clearly showed that the puck never crossed the Sharks goal line.

Honorable Mention
Blues forward Ryan Johnson was a scratch from Game 4, courtesy of Korolyuk's hip check in Game 3 that knocked Johnson out of that contest. Not known for his hitting, Korolyuk unloaded on Johnson in the opening period of Game 3. The Sharks were without Alyn McCauley who missed his third consecutive game after sustaining a shoulder injury midway though Game 1. The injury front may have gotten worse for San Jose, who lost Thornton to what appeared to be a left knee injury after he was hauled down in the 3rd period and got his leg caught up between Petr Cajanek's legs as the two fell to the ice.

"The guy who was our best player last night, Alexander Korolyuk, had another outstanding game. It's just kind of a message to the rest of the team that if you do the little things well and play like a warrior, you'll end up on top." - Sharks head coach Ron Wilson

"It was a frustrating period. It was there to be won. A couple of lapses, and we paid for them." - Doug Weight

"Our special teams have done the job all year, and we have to continue to do it. Our power play was huge tonight, and the PKs were pretty tough also." - Mike Ricci

"I had no idea where it hit me. I felt something, but I didn't know if it was somebody's stick." - Evgeni Nabokov

Jonathan Ceechoo, one of the Sharks hottest hands down the stretch, looks to be heating up in the playoffs. His two assists in Game 4 give him a two game scoring streak.

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